Practice Tour: Drew Owens

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- High school football coaching changes are often difficult on the seniors. However, Drew Owens believes this change was for the better.

"The program flipped totally from a night-and-day kind of change," Owens said. "We're working harder this year, we're bigger, we're faster, [and] our whole mindset has changed. We think we can win a state championship [and] we think we can win a conference championship."

In order for Ardrey Kell to achieve its relatively lofty goals – the football program has won 18 games in its four-year existence – first-year coach Adam Hastings believes he must take full advantage of having Owens at his disposal.

"We've got to maximize him," Hastings said. "We told Drew he's going to play defense, he's going to play special teams, and be an intricate part of our offense."

The previous regime employed a run-oriented offense, which didn't fully utilize Owens' toolset. Under Hastings, the offense will be closer to a 50-50 ratio.

"Balanced to us is: are we taking what the defense is giving us," Hastings said. "That may be 30 passes one game, but 30 runs another game."

Regardless, Owens will have an essential role in everything Ardrey Kell does offensively.

"We're going to try to get him the ball some in a couple different positions – not just lined up as a traditional tight end," Hastings said. "We'll split him out [and] move him around a lot.

"At the same time, we're going to try to use him as the focal point of our run game. He does a great job blocking [and] has great hips."

Last season, Owens saw a couple of reps a game at defensive end. Although he'll remain a reserve, his defensive playing time will increase and he has been moved to WILL linebacker.

"We have him in a position where he can blitz, he can rush the passer, and then he can drop into coverage," Hastings said. "He's long – he's 6-6 and 230 pounds – and he's dropping into the middle hole in coverage, that's tough [for opposing offenses]."

Not too much has changed on the recruiting front for Owens. Arkansas, Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, and South Carolina remain his five favorite schools with no leader.

"Those are the main schools I'm looking at right now," Owens said. "As of right now, that is my final group.

"[Those schools'] offenses suit me. I like their block-catch ratios [for their tight ends], and I feel like I can get the ball and make plays in those offenses."

Owens aims to make a verbal commitment in September or October. He plans to officially visit all five schools before making the decision.

"I want to make a justified decision, so it can be final," Owens said.

Owens says he's being heavily recruited by fellow recruits, especially the contingent of UNC verbal commitments like Eric Ebron and Marquise Williams.

"They're talking to me," Owens said. "They're always in my ear, constantly – text messages, calls, or whenever I see them in person.

"They're doing a real good job. But they made a good decision for themselves and I want to make the best decision for myself."

Since they are where he'd like to be – verbally committed – Owens definitely has picked their brains.

"I want to learn as much as I can from them, because they've been through it and know what they want to do," Owens said. Drew Owens

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